Another Israeli Gesture for Peace The materialization of 983 housing units in Har Homa “C”

Another Israeli Gesture for Peace The materialization of 983 housing units in Har Homa “C”



On Thursday 4th August 2011, the Israeli Interior Ministry granted approval to City Plan No. 10310 – “Har Homa C”- to construct some 983 housing units in the Har Homa settlement located southeast of occupied East Jerusalem; defined as ‘illegal’ under international law. The project’s location to the originally standing settlement’s structures is to the southeast, where an area is set to contain some 3000 housing units.

Sketch of plan #10310 “Har Homa C”
The decision comes as a result of a meeting from Netanyahu’s Office concerning approval of Jerusalem’s District Planning and Building Committee’s housing construction plans in Jerusalem “neighborhood” settlements. One such approved settlement was Har Homa; a project that was first submitted for approval more than two years ago. Prior to Netanyahu’s visit to the US capital and meeting with the US President Obama in May 2011, he asked the Interior Ministry to impede the construction plans but apparently the message was to continue as planned.

In response to the Israeli declaration of the housing plan, a flow of criticism flooded from the international community denouncing this declaration, describing it as ‘damaging’ to the prospects of peace.

‘I am profoundly disappointed by Thursday’s approval of a project that has trigg upload/images/2011/1312623195.pngered fierce criticism from the Palestinians and the international community,’
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton
The targeted land area on which Har Homa settlement (population 20,000+ settlersâ) is built on and the site for the new neighborhood “C” belongs to Palestinian residents from neighboring towns living in the vicinity, just 2 kilometers from the targeted location; some of them just under 100 meters from it. Israel perceives those Palestinian as absentees and their properties there no longer belong to them. This is in violation of Palestinians’ property rights’.

Netanyahu uses the Israeli housing Crisis card
The approval of Har Homa C comes in conjunction with the mounting housing crises in Israel, which started in mid July 2011. This debatable housing crises in Israel has become a pressure point issue by the various political parties in Israel against Netanyahu’s government; who in turn has declared that the answer to the housing crises lies in fostering extensive housing plans; essentially, making affordable housing within reach for Israelis.

 The Har Homa C plans and others to come later on would be a parallel fixation for the ultimate benefit of the Israeli State; the first of which would be a quick response to the claimed housing “shortage.” Secondly, it will justify affordable housing investment in the occupied West Bank territory, including East Jerusalem, which overlaps with Israeli State policy regarding the settlement program there.
“The lack of real estate is severe and we will not stop projects.”
“We are continuing to build in Jerusalem and in all of Israel,”
Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai
One of the significant aspects of this project that it comes to cover another bloc of the corporal link of settlements’ belt set to wrap Jerusalem along the city’s eastern and southern sides; thus constituting a physical barrier that will cut off Jerusalem from the West Bank and break the geographical contiguity of the West Bank into two separate entities; one to the north of Jerusalem and the other is to the south.

Coming soon … Har Homa D

The Master Plan set by the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem (Master plan Jerusalem 2000) indicates the presence of two new neighborhoods added to Har Homa settlement located north of Bethlehem Governorate. One to its southeast (Har Homa C) and the other is to its northwest (Har Homa D). These new neighborhoods will have an approximate area of 1080 dunums and potentially overall 6000 housing units will be built there. The Master Plan also indicates that the residential area of Har Homa is planned to inflate to 1410 dunums; an increase of 350% its current size of 400 dunums. Har Homa and the additional neighborhoods are to set on an overall 2500 dunums of expropriated Palestinians’ land and accommodate more than 40,000 Israeli settlers.
Locations of Planned additions C & D neighborhoods to Har Homa Settlements
The fact of the matter is thus; Israel will continue to build in the occupied West Bank territory, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem regardless of the pretext used to do so. Israel’s blatant defiance of the international community’s call to halt settlements’ construction, particularly in East Jerusalem is guaranteed to continue in light of international apathy and serious act against it from the world.

The Immobilization of the peace process

The peace process, identified in Annapolis conference in 2009, has its roots on the future negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian authority, on the possibility of creating two states, following 1967 boundaries. To do so, Israel should evacuate the illegal settlements in the West Bank. By contrast, located in the north of Bethlehem city, Har Homa represents a very comprehensive example of rapid and illegal settlements’ expansion in the West Bank, especially in Jerusalem neighborhoods, a real threat to peace.
Even the United States ask for the halt of constructions in Jerusalem –“neighborhoods”-settlements and, referring to the Har Homa as a ‘settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning.’ – It is the first time that US governance use these terms to define an Israeli built-up area within the Israeli defined ‘Jerusalem municipality’-, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, stated that the issue of new trends to build additional Housing Units in that area is a big obstacle to the Peace Process. According to the United Nations as to the European Union, Har Homa is an illegal settlement, built over the boundaries of the Green Line.

Abu Ghneim background

Abu Ghneim Mountain, less then two kilometers north of the city of Bethlehem, has been privately owned by Palestinian families, resident in Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, as well as in the villages of Sur Baher and Um Tuba. The mountain of Abu Ghneim was considered as one of the biggest forests in Palestine.
Since 1968, these large areas of land between Bethlehem and Jerusalem had been classified by the Israeli Government as green areas, prohibiting all development activities by the rightful owners.
                                  Abu Ghneim Mountain prior the construction of Har Homa Settlement in 1997
In 1991, Israel confiscated the mountain to build a settlement in the area. A big community moved to the new Israeli-controlled land and in 1997 the new Israeli settlement, Har Homa, was established. The decision of building a settlement in that area was a clear strategic choice, an impediment to the Palestinian attempt of connecting the north of Bethlehem Governorate with East Jerusalem. Although in March of the same year the UN issued a resolution condemning and stressing the illegality of Har Homa and halting the ongoing constructions in the area, the construction of the settlement continued.
An intensive construction plan was set up for the expansion of the settlement in the last few years, and it increased in the last few months.
INTERVIEW with Herzl Yechezkel, head of the Har Homa residents’ committee Published in Haaretz Newspaper-November 10, 2010


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Categories: Settlement Expansion